Copyright is a form of intellectual property. Copyrights protect original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture. A Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form so that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Copyright owners, however, may only file an infringement suit in federal court if the copyright has been registered. Copyright registration also allows for the awarding of statutory damages.

A copyright notice, © 2002, is an identifier placed on copies of the work to inform the world of copyright ownership. While use of a copyright notice was once required as a condition of copyright protection, it is now optional. Use of the notice is the responsibility of the copyright owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with, a Copyright Office.

Under the copyright law, the creator of the original expression in a work is its author. The author is also the owner of copyright unless there is a written agreement by which the author assigns the copyright to another person or entity, such as a publisher. In cases of works made for hire, the employer or commissioning party is considered to be the author (a work made for hire, is a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment or a work specially ordered or commissioned in certain specified circumstances). If the work is not considered a work for hire, such as with a contractor, the contractor is still considered to be the author of the work with a license to the work being granted to the person who hired them.

Like any other property, all or part of the copyright rights in a work may be transferred by the owner to another. There are no set forms to effect a copyright transfer, but the Copyright Office does keep records of transfers if they are submitted.

Your intellectual property rights are some of the most valuable assets that you have. If someone uses your copyrighted work without authorization, you may be entitled to bring an infringement action against them to protect your rights.

Seeking copyright protection? Fill out this form!